Yowza! Compare and contrast. Future!Hiro FTW!
Isaac, a brooding artist even before his gift began to wreck his life, continues his downward spiral. Oh, but it's always darkest just before the dawn, isn't it? For all the scattered members of the team to be, the sense of purpose that Peter referred to in the premiere begins to reveal itself. To mix metaphors, it lies just around the riverbend.
The campy story arc with Hiro and Ando going "on the road", by turns experiencing Great America (by way of a clever Nissan Versa ad placement), continues apace. This time they hit the casinos of Vegas and Hiro is talked into playing the savant to Ando's Rain Man. One thing I like about Heroes is that it doesn't take itself too seriously, and is chock full of pop culture homages - even to The Misfits of Science, the last grand experiment in metapsychic abilities by NBC - but it doesn't lack for tension and gravitas where it is appropriate.
That said, the backhanded "POW" that the goon dealt poor Hiro had me in stitches.
As for that tension: you could cut it with a knife in the case of Niki. The dramatic buildup to the revelation of her dark nature is very interesting. She's started to rationalize and to blame her estranged husband for a lot of her doings, but as she suggests to her mother-in-law, we don't even know what she's capable of. Of course, we want to see. Part of that morbid fascination, beyond a thirst for action and a desire to see the bad guys show their hand, is that little feeling in the back of your head that perhaps Niki's good girl/bad girl complex is in her head. It's there on the level of her subconscious personal conflict ("you wouldn't like me when I'm angry"), the external conflict (people wanting to blackmail her into doing things, tempting her with amnesty and cash), and - as always - her set of powers. It could come down to a race against time: can she awaken, harness, and consciously use her powers before others take them away from her? The classic archetype of the wild talent, Niki is the one to watch both during and after this "introductions" arc.
Speaking of archetypes and wild talents, Claire is getting a lot done for someone who is watched by an adoptive parent in the sinister loop. Of course, if he really is guilty of or complicit in the murder of her biological parents, Mr. Bennett may be in for a spot of Claire's recurring revenge. The board is set; the pieces, in motion. Even for Bennett, though, a metapsychic operant is difficult to overestimate. Not only have we not seen their powers really awaken under duress (unless Sylar or Bennett's gifted minion is a product of such stress), they haven't begun to apply their powers in concert. There's also the old adage that the whole (or in this case, the child) may be greater than the sum of its parts. That's most likely true of Micah, who is definitely a second generation talent, and Claire, who may also be one.
Aside: Doesn't Hiro sound a little like Garrett Wong's Harry Kim with that new accent?